Every hair type has its own challenges, but we’d bet curly girls spend the most time on their curly hair routines. So, it makes it that much more disappointing when you wake up to find your once bouncy, voluminous ringlets have gone flat and frizzy overnight. If this sounds like you, it might be a good time to learn how to wrap your hair before bed.
While you may have never tried hair wrapping, the technique has been around for years. Originating in Africa, this ritual represents a long history of Black hair culture and has been used for decades by African American women to style and preserve their hair. Whether using scarves, bonnets, old stockings, or durags, many women wrap their hair as a stylish protective option before turning in.
Wondering how to do a hair wrap, and, more importantly, what the benefits are? We tapped Ashley Brown, Mizani artist and owner of Cheveux Salon, for everything you need to know. But first, peep her hair wrapping tutorial below.
Is wrapping good for your hair?
As mentioned, hair wrapping is great for your strands and benefits every hair type. As Brown explains, wrapping your hair before bed keeps the hair cuticle intact while you toss and turn at night.
“When you don't wrap your hair, your hair is essentially rubbing up against your pillowcase while you sleep...Which can cause your cuticle to open, thus causing dryness, breakage, and damage over time,” Brown says.
While wrapping your hair is a technique long used by the curly and natural hair community to keep curls maintained and frizz-free overnight, Brown suggests that anyone can see positive results from it.
“Higher texture types like curly, coily, and zig-zag coils benefit by keeping the cuticle closed as well as getting longevity in [styles like a] silk press,” Brown explains. “Lower texture types that are prone to frizz or have pre-lightened, chemically treated hair benefit from wrapping as well.”
Brown adds that those with low texture types, such as straight and wavy, can experience challenges with maintaining length. However, they’ll likely have a better chance of growing down-to-there-hair if they wrap their hair consistently. What’s more, wrapping can help preserve heat styles like curls, waves, and blowouts, so you have to touch up your locks less often (spoiler alert: less heat damage in the long run).
“I strongly urge my clients to wrap their hair as soon as they get home from work at night,” Brown says. “I tell them to get home, wash off their makeup, and wrap their hair. This will begin to create a great routine for skin care and hair care alike.”
What should I use to wrap my hair?
Beginners learning the ropes of how to wrap hair may be tempted to pick up any ol’ piece of cloth and get to work—but not so fast! The type of material used can play a major role in the look and feel of your hair post-wrapping. Many experts recommend enveloping your tresses in silk or satin. These fabrics are less absorbent than ones like cotton, so they won’t wick away your hair’s natural moisture and dry it out.
Speaking of silk and satin, switching your pillowcase to either of these textiles is also a good idea. The smooth, glossy surface of silk or satin allows hair to glide frictionlessly across your pillow whenever you toss and turn. So if you decide to skip a day or two of wrapping, you’ll still have some insurance against frizz, dryness, and damage.
How do you start a hair wrap?
Before you discover how to wrap your hair, it’s essential to prep your mane with the right products beforehand. According to Brown, the product you use pre-wrapping should be based on your hair texture and needs.
“Prep your hair by applying product to the mid-shaft and ends of the hair...never to the roots, as this will create oily-looking hair,” Brown says.
If your hair is dry and needs a lightweight formula, opt for Mizani 25 Miracle Nourishing Oil. This luxurious hair treatment offers 25 benefits for hair, including moisturizing, detangling, softening, and revitalizing curls. If you have thick, dry hair, use Mizani Coconut Souffle Hair Moisturizer or Mizani Thermasmooth Smoothguard Serum.
When working these formulas in, you should also gently comb or finger-comb through your hair to ensure it’s free of knots and tangles. The smoother your hair is going into your wrap, the better your next-day results will be.
How do I wrap my hair at night?
Without further ado, here’s an easy breakdown of how to wrap your hair like a pro. Whether your hair is long, short, textured, or fine, two quick steps are all it takes.
How to Wrap Straight or Short Hair
For both straight hair and short hair that’s above the shoulders, Brown recommends learning how to wrap hair in a scarf. For this classic technique, you’ll need a hair scarf of your choosing (silk or satin is ideal) and a few hair clips with no grips on the inside. The pins help tuck shorter layers neatly into place. And since this wrap involves lots of brushing, it’ll ensure your straight hair is sleek and shiny.
Step 1: Brush and pin your hair.
“Brush the hair around your head, essentially using your head as a large roller to keep the volume while you sleep,” Brown says. “If you part your hair towards one side, you’re actually going to wrap it towards the other side.”
Forcing your hair to lie oppositely than it usually does props it up at the root so it’s more voluminous once you flip it over the next day. Just grab a boar bristle brush to brush your hair in the opposing direction of your part and wrap it around your head. Use non-grip hair clips to pin your hair around your head until you reach your ends.
“As you wrap, you can secure with non-grip clips before putting your silk scarf over the hair,” Brown expands. “Once the silk scarf is on, you can then carefully slide the clips out.”
Step 2: Wrap your scarf and remove your clips.
Once your hair is pinned with clips, fold your scarf into a triangle and wrap it around your head. Secure your scarf in a bow and gently remove all of the hair clips. In the morning, untie the hair scarf and gently comb your hair back to where you normally part it.
If you have longer or curly hair, opt for the scrunchie method. Having enough length is key to getting your hair to stay put in the scrunchie. Plus, you can tweak the strategy to avoid disturbing your curl definition.
Step 1: Make a loose bun.
Flip your head over and brush through your hair with a boar bristle brush to the front of your head. If you have tighter coils, skip this step so as not to ruin your curl pattern.
Grab all of your hair as if you were creating a ponytail. Then, twist all of the hair from the ponytail and wrap it around the base of your ponytail to form a bun as close to the front of your hairline as possible so that your scarf will stay on. Loosely secure the bun with a scrunchie.
“The bun must be secured with something soft like a scrunchie, so ensure no marks or lines are created,” Brown explains. “The bun shouldn’t be too tight...when you wrap your silk scarf on it, this is what will secure the bun and make sure it stays intact through the night.”
Step 2: Tie your scarf in front.
Fold your scarf into a triangle and wrap it around your head. Bring the loose corners of the triangle to the front of your head and tie your scarf into place on your forehead.
When it’s time to remove your scarf, gently pull it off from the back of your head and shake your hair to remove the scrunchie easily without tugging on your strands.
Now that you’re well-versed on how to wrap your hair, you may need scarf recommendations to help you do it. Here are a few of our favorite hair wrap scarves to add to your cart now.
Our 5 Favorite DIY Hair Wrap Scarves
Photo credit: Brand
Rifle Paper Co. Square Silk Scarf
We love the colorful wildflower design on this silk scarf from Rifle Paper Co. It’s available in seven gorgeous patterns, so you can find one that suits your fancy. Plus, they makes for a bright, cheerful addition to your wardrobe by day.
Rifle Paper Co. Square Silk Scarf, $68.00 MSRP
Photo credit: Brand
Lost Pattern New York in Sketches Silk Scarf - Black & White
Catch some Zzz’s with the city that never sleeps in this New York City-inspired scarf from Lost Pattern.
Lost Pattern New York in Sketches Silk Scarf - Black & White, $85.00 MSRP
Photo credit: Brand
Kitsch Satin Hair Scarf Leopard
If you want to take out the guesswork of wrapping your hair, let this satin number from Kitsch do it for you. We’re also suckers for animal print, which brings us back to the nostalgic patterns we swore by in the 1990s.
Kitsch Satin Hair Scarf Leopard, $14.00 MSRP
Photo credit: Brand
The Wrap Life Satin Head Scarf in Legacy
Not only does this verdant scarf safeguard your precious mane, but it’s also made in collaboration with textile designers who are women of color. The fabric is extra lightweight, too, making it perfect for those hot summer nights.
The Wrap Life Satin Head Scarf in Legacy, $22.00 MSRP
Photo credit: Brand
Mulberry Park Silks Silk Head Scarf Bandana
For a no-frills option, you can’t go wrong with Mulberry Park Silks’ plain black silk bandana. The silk boasts 18 proteins and amino acids, which can help keep your strands healthy and hydrated.
Mulberry Park Silks Silk Head Scarf Bandana, $46.25 MSRP